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Kilgour M.J.,University of Connecticut | Auster P.J.,University of Connecticut | Packer D.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Purcell M.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 4 more authors.
Marine Technology Society Journal | Year: 2014

National and international obligations to protect vulnerable species, communities, habitats, and ecosystems (VSCHEs) require greater attention as human uses extend to deeper water. These obligations increase the need for improved understanding of the distribution and abundance of VSCHEs to develop management actions. Data fromlow-speed vehicles that operate at the seafloor (e.g., remotely operated vehicles, camera sleds) predominate. These "low and slow" approaches, while providing high-resolution data, do not operate at the scale required for management. We suggest autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) flown at relatively high altitude and high speed over the seafloor as a "high and fast" approach to survey areas at the scale fisheries and other activities operate.We used REMUS 6000 AUVs to collect presence data for VSCHEs in a rapid assessment on Physalia Seamount. AUVs were programmed to collect digital images, side-scan sonar (120/410 kHz), and environmental parameters and could navigate a 40° slope. Our preliminary results of this approach, predicated on the assumption that coarse taxonomic resolution is adequate for management needs, indicates AUVs can be effective tools for large area surveys in short time periods.

Levin L.A.,University of California at San Diego | Mengerink K.,Waitt Institute | Gjerde K.M.,Wycliffe Management | Rowden A.A.,NIWA - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research | And 11 more authors.
Marine Policy | Year: 2016

Increasing interest in deep-seabed mining has raised many questions surrounding its potential environmental impacts and how to assess the impacts’ significance. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is charged with ensuring effective protection of the marine environment as part of its responsibilities for managing mining in seabed areas beyond national jurisdiction (the Area) on behalf of humankind. This paper examines the international legal context for protection of the marine environment and defining the significant adverse change that can cause “serious harm”, a term used in the ISA Mining Code to indicate a level of harm that strong actions must be taken to avoid. It examines the thresholds and indicators that can reflect significant adverse change and considers the specific vulnerability of the four ecosystems associated with the minerals targeted for mining: (1) manganese (polymetallic) nodules, (2) seafloor massive (polymetallic) sulphides, (3) cobalt-rich (polymetallic) crusts and (4) phosphorites. The distributions and ecological setting, probable mining approaches and the potential environmental impacts of mining are examined for abyssal polymetallic nodule provinces, hydrothermal vents, seamounts and phosphorite-rich continental margins. Discussion focuses on the special features of the marine environment that affect the significance of the predicted environmental impacts and suggests actions that will advance understanding of these impacts. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Johnson A.E.,University of California at San Diego | Johnson A.E.,Waitt Institute | Jackson J.B.C.,University of California at San Diego
Global Ecology and Conservation | Year: 2015

Fishers and divers are the major resource users of Caribbean coral reefs. On Curaçao and Bonaire, reef condition is good relative to the Caribbean average, but fishes and corals have greatly declined over the last few decades. We interviewed 177 fishers and 211 professional SCUBA divers to assess their views on the extent and causes of degradation. Fishers know fish stocks are severely depleted and declining, whereas divers were aware of declines but had "shifted baselines" and consider the reefs healthy. Fishers and divers differ in perceptions of the causes and appropriate remedies for decline. Fishers generally blame external factors such as changes in climate, currents, or industrial fishing offshore, whereas divers primarily blame overfishing and coastal development. Nevertheless, the great majority of both fishers and divers support more management of both fishing and diving. Thus the social climate is ripe for balanced and strong restrictions on both groups for reef recovery and sustainable use. Exclusion of both fishers and divers from protected areas of significant size around the islands would be a major step forward towards the long-term conservation of reef resources. © 2015 The Authors.

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